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And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 19, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Riding, a former European cultural correspondent for the New York Times, recounts Parisian life under the Nazi swastika and the forced compromises of French writers, artists, and performers under Hitler's rule. Riding's clear-eyed account lifts the veil on the moral and artistic choices for those who stayed and were forced to decide whether to resist, collaborate, or compromise somewhere in between. Publisher Gaston Gallimard let a German-selected editor run his prestigious Nouvelle Revue Française; in turn, he was able to publish books by authors unsympathetic to the Nazis. While the American government lobbied for emergency visas for gifted refugees who didn't flee to Switzerland or North Africa, some artists and performers hid or performed in cabarets or clubs with non-Aryan restrictions. Maurice Chevalier traveled to Germany to perform for French POWs and was seen by some as a collaborator worthy of death. Among the best examinations of occupied life under the Third Reich, Riding's (Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans) eloquent book speaks of the swift executions of traitors and the women disgraced by having their heads shaved, but admits that the French embraced the myth of national resistance and pushed the Occupation out of their minds. 16 pages of photos.
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From Bookmarks Magazine

“An arresting and detailed account” (Los Angeles Times) of Paris during the Nazi occupation, this incisive and sympathetic examination resists passing judgment on the men and women forced to endure its ignominies. Instead, it offers keen insights into the ethical quandaries posed by censorship, subjugation, and cooperation. Less concerned with the era’s wide-ranging repercussions, Riding focuses on the stories—revealing anecdotes and character sketches—to endow his subject with a human face. Though Riding does, at times, become too absorbed by details, it is precisely this emphasis on the individual that hones his narrative. Well-researched, evocative, and disturbing, And the Show Went On is a remarkable exploration of art and artists in the face of repression.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307268977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307268976
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
France was the major cultural space of the western world in the 1920s and 30s. But it was increasingly wracked by intense cultural conflict in the 1930s between a reactionary and anti-Semitic Right and a socialist and often Communist Left. Intellectuals in the two camps engaged in literary warfare against a wider cultural backdrop of world-class art, music, ballet, and theater.

Then came 1940 and total political defeat. The German Occupation became a petri dish in which to gauge how different individuals and groups reacted under an often deathly stress. Many French gave a grudging acquiescence to the Vichy government under old Marshal Petain since when you lose, you lose. Many turned against this government "by stooge." After Germany invaded Russia in 1941, the French Communists organized and executed a highly effective and very brave resistance. Many non-Communist resistants also joined the overall movement. So there was a small, vibrant underground cultural resistance.

More interesting is the journey of the Right Wing writers. From being hate-filled polemicists in the 1930s, this group now had the power through their magazines to denounce other Frenchmen and cause their arrest by the Germans, possible deportation to concentration camps, or simple execution in France. Somewhere in here you find the Seventh Circle of Cultural Hell. The irony was that many were brilliant writers and thinkers who took a wrong turn in their personal development, the lure of the romance of extreme ideology with its promise of total commitment so beloved by intellectuals. This is one of the most fascinating sections of Riding's book.

Another interesting section is the account of American Florence Gould, who hosted a very popular salon in Paris during the Occupation.
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Format: Hardcover
Alan Riding's book raises one of the most difficult issues concerning intellectuals living under foreign occupation:to what extent should they resist the enemy? Should they show defiance or show indifference to the occupying forces? What is the intellectual's role in a situation of war?
These questions started bothering Mr.Riding thirty years ago when he asked the same questions about the artists' response to dictatorships in South America. He writes that "few sold out to the dictatorships" then. After started living in Paris, he realized that the same questions could be asked about the French intellectuals and artists during the Nazi occupation in the forties.(p.10,Introduction)
His book starts with the fall of France in June,1940, when the German army drove into Paris unopposed. Within weeks, the remnants of French democracy were quietly buried. Riding continues to introduce us to a very big number of writers, painters, actors, entertainers and dancers who kept being busy under the Nazi occupation.
Broadly speaking, the artists were divided into three main groups: those who collaborated, those who opposed the enemy and those who chose to remain indifferent in a no-man's land. Among those artists discussed are Edit Piaf,Picasso, Chevalier, the pianist Alfred Cortot, the composers Boulez and Messiaen as well as the virulent anti-Semitic writers Celine, Brasillach and Drieu La Rochelle. Camus and Sartre are also discussed in detail. Marguerite Duras joined the resistance along with her husband, Robert Antelme, while the writer Colette spent much of the occupation in her apartment where her Jewish husband was forced to hide every night in a maid's room in the building's attic.
Theaters, nightclubs and cabarets made sure the show went on.
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Format: Paperback
There are 3 recent excellent books on life in occupied Paris-
1. And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris (Vintage) by Alan Riding (Oct 4, 2011)
2. The Shameful Peace: How French Artists and Intellectuals Survived the Nazi Occupation Frederic Spotts (March 30, 2010)
3. Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940-44 by Charles Glass (4 Feb 2010)

Riding's book covers a wider ground compared to the two other books.
He starts with the entry of the Nazis into Paris on 14 June 1940. He surveyed how life was like for the writers, artists and cultural elite in occupied Paris. One will find interesting nuggets like the American Varian Fry who was sent by the Emergency Rescue Committee based in New York to help writers and artists flee to the United States in Aug 1940.

Despite opposition even from his own American embassy and the State Department, Fry and his team managed to bring out around 2000 refugees. Sadly according to this book it was only in 1967 , just months before Fry's death, that one of those he saved Dina Vierny persuaded France's Culture Minister to name Fry as a chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur. ( P 89 Vintage 2001 ed ).

Equally sadly, Riding sets out how the Jewish novelist Irene Nemirovsky
who was planning a five-part epic called Suite Francaise , inspired by War and Peace, could only finished the first two volumes before she was taken by French gendarmes and sent to the Nazi camp in Auschwitz where she died. The unfinished manuscript of Suite Francaise was kept by her 2 children who were hidden by the locals and only published 62 years later. ( P 137 ).

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in how the cultural
elites coped with living and working in Occupied Paris.
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